Six-Words Teaches Students How to Tell Their Stories in School

Coleridge Taylor Montessori cafeteria

We think of schooling in sequential categories—moving from first grade to second, looking forward, never back. It makes sense; preschool is vastly different from middle school. PTA members Bridget Kolb and Amy Miller of Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky, managed to bridge those differences with a writing program for elementary students. They brought the grades together through an activity involving just six words.

Bridget and Amy joined forces as the co-chairs of the school’s Literacy Week, where they needed to come up with k-5 writing curriculum; programming that would work across the school’s grade level spectrum. While brainstorming, Bridget recalled hearing the NPR story featuring Six-Word Memoirs and the six word format: “I was struck by how much could be conveyed in just six words.” Amy, who had previously been a teacher and taught using the Six-Words format, loved the idea.

Bridget and Amy note that Six-Words is a writing resource for students that allows for the sharing of stories about themselves. Additionally, the elementary writing curriculum shows students the power that words hold, granting them the opportunity to express their individualism, no matter their age. “It doesn’t have to be a hard, daunting writing project with rough drafts and topic sentences. It can be one index card and six words,” Bridget explained. Amy recalled “one three-year-old boy, who couldn’t even write his name yet, told me his six words with a big smile, while his classmates looked on in awe!”

Although students were skeptical at first, school librarian, Tom Bruker, had a great lesson with many examples. “You could almost see the wheels start to turn as they realized that there were stories in those six words,” said Bridget. Here are six favorites from the Literacy Week team:

“Reading is the foundation of learning.”
“I love reading big fat books.”
“I want to be an illustrator.”
“Happiness is my mom and family.”
“I like doctors. They work hod [hard].”
“Please don’t stick your tongue out.”

Six-Word Memoirs found a home at Coleridge Taylor Montessori and Bridget and Amy hope the project will become a permanent part of the school’s Literacy Week. The co-chairs also see Six-Words as a daily activity that could be implemented as a free writing curriculum for elementary. However they choose to write, we hope they keep on Sixing!